Sierra Lakes Golf Club
16600 Clubhouse Drive
Fontana, CA 92336
This event will recognize and honor the achievements and accomplishments of women who have made significant contributions in their profession, industry or enterprise. Please join us for this exclusive event as we celebrate extraordinary women of diversity who operate at the highest level of excellence in their businesses, careers, communities and organizations. These women lead by example with the spirit of excellence at the forefront of all that they do. Please share with us in honoring these incredible women leaders worthy of recognition.
Who Should Attend
Corporate business leaders, influential community leaders, women business owners (WBEs), MBEs, Veterans. LGBTQ and
entrepreneurs who are looking to support, celebrate and encourage the NOW and NEXT generations of influencers.
Sponsor a Table $1,500
Benefits of sponsoring a table:
• Table for ten at awards brunch
• Sponsor name and logo prominently displayed on table
• Full page advertisement in program book
• Sponsorship designation with company name/logo listed in program book
• Name and logo displayed on event signage
• Acknowledgement on social media sites
• Name and logo included in WOE advertorial in the summer issue
of Diversity Professional “The Magazine”
2021 WOE Speakers
Anya Nova is an award-winning entrepreneur and business owner. She is the CEO and founder of Alpas Athletix, an athleisure brand company and the home of the first-ever patented design strapless sports bra (released 2021). A speaker, spiritual entrepreneur, life and business mentor, and author, Anya has published several books, including New-School Leader, released in 2018.
She is a former tech and cybersecurity executive and past President & CEO of IT TechPros, Inc., a managed I.T. services and cybersecurity firm, serving small businesses with 40-100 employees. When not working on her companies, Anya is a loving mom of two beautiful daughters. She is an animal lover with pursuits in health and wellness, and an avid student of the universe and life.
Passionate about ancient esoteric studies, Anya is a certified practitioner of ancient numerology and provides on-to-one spiritual coaching with women executives and CEOs looking for guidance in life. She has used this same wisdom in her life to get a competitive edge and experience complete fulfillment and happiness.
Tiana Sanchez is the CEO and founder of TSI, LLC, a woman-owned small business preparing leaders to achieve next-level results in employee engagement. Her company manages a portfolio of clients with a combined net worth of over $100 million.
For over a decade, Tiana has served as a corporate trainer and business consultant to top leaders in the public and private sectors across the United States. She is a #1 best-selling author, producer, and host of a global podcast that inspires thousands of people in more than 26 countries.
A featured guest on KTLA’s Morning News Show, Tiana discusses best practices on empathy in the workplace for managers. Her firm’s Diversity Audit and Pulse Survey are providing the data needed to support organizations with the implementation of DEI practices. She is an award-winning executive coach and recipient of the Women of Distinction Award.
Elected as mayor in December 2010 and overwhelmingly re-elected in 2014 and 2018, Acquanetta Warren serves her third term as the mayor of Fontana, CA. Mayor Warren focuses her administrations on bolstering economic development, creating educational opportunities, improving public safety, and advocating for a healthier community. As a nationally recognized leader, Mayor Warren serves in various capacities, including the member of the League of California Cities Public Safety Task Force; member of the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) Community, Economic, and Human Development Committee; and board member of the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) for San Bernardino County and the State of California.
2021 Women of Excellence Honorees
Donna DeBerry is vice president of global inclusion at Seismic, where, in her executive leadership role, she leads efforts to build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce and company culture. She also oversees the company’s Global DEI Council and partners with business leaders across the organization to establish sustainable and measurable best practices at Seismic. Outside the office, she serves as CEO of the Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce, which works to uplift San Diego’s Black-owned businesses and build generational wealth.
Donna has more than 20 years of experience leading D&I programs at global organizations, including leadership positions at Starbucks Corporation, Nike, Indeed and Wyndham Worldwide. She’s also consulted by numerous household-name brands on their D&I strategies, including Sony, Samsung, Coca-Cola, Toyota and Home Depot, among others.
In addition, Donna’s work includes co-producing segments for The Oprah Winfrey Show and producing the award-winning documentary, Walking the Waking Journey. Her expertise in the global diversity space has been featured in media outlets including Fortune, Time, Money, Newsweek, Essence, Black Enterprise, and Diversity Inc.
Donna has a certificate in leadership development from Harvard University and a D&I certificate from Yale University. She received a bachelor’s in intercultural/multicultural and diversity studies from Thomas Edison State College.
Virginia Gomez is president and CEO of the Southern California Minority Supplier Development Council (SCMSDC), a minority advocacy and corporate membership organization focused on advancing business connections for minority-owned businesses with large, majority corporations.
Prior to SCMSDC, Virginia held management positions at the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, the nation’s largest municipally owned utility. She was instrumental in developing and implementing LADWP’s supplier diversity initiative. Under her oversight, LADWP consistently met and exceeded MBE and WBE goals. She is the recipient of awards from the Asian Business Association-Orange County; the Los Angeles Business Journal Women’s Council Award honoring outstanding achievements by women who make a difference throughout LA; the Long Beach Regional Hispanic Chamber of Commerce “Mujeres del Ano” and one of Senator Sydney Kamlager’s 2021 “Sister Circle” honorees.
Virginia holds a degree in Business Administration; earned USC and UCLA’s 21st Century Executive Leadership Certificates; and is a certified TQM facilitator. She serves on the LA County BizFed Small Business/Labor & Employment Committee; LA Unified School District Small Business Advisory Council; the LA Super Bowl LVI Host Committee; the IOAI (Cal Trans Independent Office of Audit & Investigations Task Force_ and the LA Area Chamber of Commerce Small Business Policy Task Force, among others.
Jasmin Hall serves as president of the Inland Empire Utilities Agency Board of Directors where she represents Division 4, the City of Fontana and portions of the Cities of Rialto and Bloomington. She is the Agency’s representative to the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority (SAWPA) Commission where she currently serves as chair, the California Association of Sanitation Agencies (CASA) where she serves as vice president, and also serves with Inland Empire Regional Composting Authority (IERCA), Association of San Bernardino County Special Districts, Regional Sewerage Program Policy Committee, and Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA).
Jasmin also serves as president on the Chino Basin Regional Financing Authority and as an alternate for the Chino Basin Water Bank. She has extensive experience in community leadership, serving as the Fontana Planning Commission Secretary and chairwoman for the Fontana Parks and Recreation Commission. She initiated the process that earned Inland Empire Utilities Agency the Special District Leadership Foundation’s District Transparency Certificate of Excellence. She also received a Recognition in Special District Governance certificate, honoring special district board members and trustees that demonstrate their commitment to continuing education and special districts governance.
Jasmin has a Master of Business Administration with a specialization in human resource management from National University, San Diego; a Bachelor of Science in business management from University of Phoenix, San Diego; and a project management certification from the University of California, Irvine.
Robin Morgan Billups is the Connector at The Billups Group (TBG), which contracts with entities and entrepreneurs to assess, coach and develop strategic frameworks toward economic goals and compliance reporting. Robin is adept in interpreting and identifying viable contracting opportunities to achieve procurement supply chain inclusion. TBG value-added services entail aligning D&I with corporate social responsibility commitments; tracking/reporting KPI metrics; certification requirements; aligning prospects and deepening existing client relations while connecting relevant resources.
A former banker, she spent many years in commercial real estate construction financing on a national basis, where she sourced and underwrote conventional and affordable housing investment transactions for multiple institutions, including Bank of America and U.S. Bank. As a commercial real estate construction relationship manager at U.S. Bank, Robin averaged $150 million-plus annually in loan production before creating the national supplier diversity role in a 24-state footprint. She built the department from the ground up while implementing a national program focused on education, assessment, compliance and certification for Prime, Tier II and Tier III businesses.
Following U.S. Bank, Robin joined the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council-D.C. (WBENC) team as the national business development manager recruiting, retaining and engaging corporate members. Her expertise and connections stabilized and increased retention, and new corporate members across a broad sector of public and private entities.
Drisha Melton is the Southern California Supplier Diversity Liaison for the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Her responsibilities include promoting the CPUC’s programs and providing education and outreach necessary to raise awareness of various regulatory and legislative policies.
She is committed to promoting consumer needs and protecting the public interest. She is utilized as a resource to build relationships with local government groups and to promote GO156, the CPUC’s supplier diversity program, which encourages greater economic opportunities for women, minority and disabled veteran business, LGBT enterprises.
Drisha represents the CPUC as a member of the Statewide Coalition on Diversity Initiatives, the Workforce, Education, and Training Task Force; an Operation Lifesaver trained volunteer for rail and safety; and a member of the Utilities Supplier Diversity Roundtable, which facilitates the development of diverse business enterprises in the wholesale power market.
Anita Darden Gardyne
Technology business visionary Anita Darden Gardyne is an award-winning Black businesswoman with a personal mission of extending women’s careers, closing the pay equity gap faster, and creating thousands of living wage jobs. As CEO and chairman of the board of Onēva, which she co-founded in 2014, Anita combines her prowess as a trendsetter and trailblazer with this mission.
She was recognized as a Successful Entrepreneur by the CA State Assembly in 2020 and awarded a USPTO patent for “Creating Trust and Safety in the In-Home Care Market” in 2019, with a second patent for an AI video recording device in process. Early iterations of Onēva Concierge Care won “Best Start-Up Silicon Valley 2015” and TechCrunch Disrupt Runner-Up in 2017. Prior to Onēva, Anita spent nearly two decades in leadership positions including her role as CFO at Quantum (Seagate), leading a disk drive business unit generating $3.5 billion in revenue. She has also held roles at Levi Strauss & Co, IDG, and AT&T (Pacific Bell).
She has an MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and a BA in economics and economics in the Black community from UC Berkeley. She has also earned a Scaling your Minority Business certificate from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. Fiercely dedicated to her community, she has served as a board member for Oakland’s Center for AIDS Services, the Bay Area Girl Scouts, Oakland’s Vincent Academy, and the Head of Royce School Parent Association. She also served as District Secretary for the town of Kensington, CA.
Bernita McCann Hightower
Bernita McCann Hightower is the president and CEO of Next Generation Fuel, a wholesale distributor of gasoline, diesel and alternative fuels throughout the United States and South Africa. In her role, she has secured international partnerships with Fortune 100/500 corporations. In 2016, Next Generation Fuel was recognized by Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) as the Top Female and Minority-Owned Energy Firm. In 2018, it was recognized by Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council (OMSDC) as the Emerging Company of the Year. And in 2019, it was ranked #24 by Cincinnati Business Courier Largest Women-Owned Businesses in Cincinnati. In 2020, Next Generation Fuel received the Ohio Success Award, and was recognized last year in The Dayton Business Journal 40 under 40 Class of 2020!
Bernita has completed various executive leadership programs, including at Dartmouth Tuck School of Business, Procter and Gamble Business Development Program, Shell Oil & Gas Energy Executive Program, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program and OMSDC Middle Market Executive Program at The Fisher College of Business.
Bernita is married to Steve Hightower, Founder & President of Hightowers Petroleum and is a member of National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), International Black Women Public Policy Institute (IBWPPI), Odyssey Media, The Dream Walker Academy and Women Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).
Samantha Varela is the supplier diversity administrator at American Honda Motor Co., Inc. She is responsible for developing and fostering inclusive partnerships that reflect the diversity of Honda’s associates, partners and customers. Samantha joined Honda in 2008 and served in a variety of positions.
In 2016, Samantha was presented with the opportunity to help launch the American Honda Procurement Inclusion & Diversity Department. Samantha promotes an inclusive approach to Honda’s procurement department through advocacy, engagement and development of diverse suppliers. She is grateful to work alongside many amazing entrepreneurs, community leaders, and corporate leaders.
Agenda at a Glance
Introductions and Welcome
Recognition and Presentation of Awards
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